What Is a Life Worth in North Carolina? A Look at Wrongful-Death Awards
This Article examines the amounts recovered in 123 wrongful-death cases filed in North Carolina over a five-year period. The dataset is unique in that it includes both jury verdicts and settlements. Although the injury— death—was the same in each of these cases, the amounts recovered varied greatly. Several patterns emerge from the data. First, there is a strong negative correlation between age and the amount recovered. Second, the manner in which the decedent died seems to make a difference. Violent deaths, for example, led to larger recoveries than did nonviolent deaths. Third, jury verdicts produced much larger recoveries than did settlements. Finally, the results underscore the critical role of insurance in wrongful death cases.